Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Grace and Encouragement for the Long Haul

January 9th, 2013 · 26 Comments · KS lifestyle

This is a {guest post} series from Tiffany of Don’t Waste the Crumbs.

Earlier this week you were challenged to remove all trans fats from your kitchen. How’s that going? Running into any problems? Wondering who I am, what I’ve done with Katie and what I’m talking about? Hint – it’s all in this week’s Monday Mission. Winking smile  Follow the Baby Steps board on Pinterest by clicking HERE.

There’s a reason why I refer to our food choices and nutrition decisions as a “journey.” It’s not an overnight transformation. It has taken me months to get this far and I’m still very much a beginner. It will take years to undo the wrong rules and bad food that are so deeply ingrained. Quite honestly, it will probably take the rest of my life.

I don’t say this to discourage you by any means. On the contrary, I’m here today to offer encouragement to both new real foodies and old. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others who appear to do more. Those who soak every grain and don’t dare touch a trans fat with a ten foot pole just seem to always do it the right way. Let me share with you one lesson that I’ve learned that trumps all the other baby steps: you must give yourself grace.

Take this week’s mission for example. It sounds easy enough, right? Read the label, check for those terms and throw the stuff away if they’re listed. Easy peasy.

Trust me – drawing those hard lines are not always as easy as it seems. I’ve scoured my kitchen high and low TWICE and hydrogenated oils still seem to seep through the cracks.

And even if you’ve managed to get your kitchen – and keep your kitchen – 100% trans fat free, there’s still temptations to give in to this stuff when you’re at the store. It’s easy to turn your back on those crunchy, salty potato chips (most of the time). But trans fat hides in food that even real foodies consider “normal.” Imagine this scenario.

You’ve invited company over for dinner tonight and chicken enchiladas are on the menu. You shredded the chicken and cheese yesterday and the sauce is ready on the stove. Tummies are rumbling and you’re all set for that minute clean-sweep of the house, just as soon as you roll up the enchiladas in the tortillas… TORTILLAS?! That’s the moment when the light bulb goes off.

You forgot to make homemade tortillas, and with guests arriving in 30 minutes, there’s certainly no time to make them now.

You rush to the nearest grocery store (because the health food store is definitely too far this late in the game) and start reading the labels on the dozens of tortillas on the shelf.

And wouldn’t you know, every single package of tortillas has some sort of trans fat listed.

Given your knowledge of trans fats, you certainly don’t want to buy them, but company is coming and they’re expecting dinner (as is the rest of your family).

Are you no longer on the “right” road to eating healthy if you buy these tortillas? Will you undo all the hard work you’ve put in thus far by caving into enchiladas?!

chicken enchiladas - making (5) (475x348)

Absolutely not, on both accounts. You’ve simply found yourself stuck between a rock (real food) and a hard place (real life) – and this corridor is tough to maneuver.

It’s important to keep the long-term goal in mind when making this trek. There are times when there will be no real food alternative. You will find yourself arguing with yourself over tortillas or jelly or some other random item at the store, debating between needing it and wanting it. (Try to keep that conversation to a whisper so other patrons don’t think you’re too crazy, mkay? Winking smile )

Your journey will not be perfect, and there may be poor decisions along the way, but don’t let a bad decision deter you from the greater goal of eater healthier and more nutritious food. We’re nourishing our bodies so we can live longer, healthier lives without having to rely on corrupt doctors or medicine, so we can properly fight toxins and harmful pathogens hidden in our meals. Continue to move forward, don’t stop challenging the food “norms” and most importantly – do not give up.

So then what choices are we left with when we feel forced into a situation like the above? Honestly, this situation DID happen to me. I sucked it up, bought the tortillas and continued with dinner as planned.

Did I want to eat trans fat? Did I want to knowingly feed it to my family and my friends?! Of course not, but considering I’ve rid my kitchen of every other trans fat known to me, one package of tortillas wasn’t going to be the end of the world.

We’ve jumped in with two feet and we’re in it for the long haul, right? One package of tortillas is merely a bump in the road – a small exception, if you will.

However, it’s important that we not allow exceptions to become the norm. While a small amount is certainly better than a large amount, consuming trans fat is still not good for our bodies. Ideally we should not be eating them at all, and “none” is the amount we should continuously be reaching towards.

Instead, incidents like the above should be considered opportunities for growth. Maybe I need to learn to meal plan better. (Next week’s topic – perfect!) Or perhaps find a store that offers tortillas without trans fat. At a minimum, it means that I need to learn how to transform chicken enchiladas into something else (chicken casserole? chicken soup?) without breaking out in a cold sweat.

I firmly believe that even a little bit of progress in the right direction is still progress. So you eat those tortillas tonight. Next time you won’t. You’ll be better educated on the topic of hidden trans fat and more equipped to make a healthier decision next time.

Serve up a big, hefty scoop of grace with your enchiladas and know that the journey is long and full of turns. Just when we think we’ve mastered trans fat, there will be another unsafe chemical right around the corner.

In short, there will be plenty of other opportunities to choose to not eat tortillas.

What about you? Given where you are in your quest, what would you have done in this situation?

Katie’s answer: I almost don’t want to jump in since I might squash good conversation in the comments, but I can’t help it. My new eBook, due out Jan. 22nd, is all about remaking your family favorites to fit real food. I’ve taken requests from readers and reverse engineered dozens of recipes.

Along the way, a few tricks I’ve picked up include how to make something gluten free and how to make something faster, like a one-pot meal instead of a casserole that uses two pots as well. For chicken enchiladas with the sauce already made, I’d say there are two easy options:

  • buy corn tortillas – many of them have questionable ingredients too, but I’d choose an industrial oil (corn, canola) over a trans fat if that’s the only choice I had. Sometimes you can find “clean” corn tortillas, much easier than flour. BUT – they taste markedly different, and not everyone likes them. I’m one of those people.
  • That’s why when I made enchiladas for the book, I did them two ways: the photo above shows homemade flour tortillas, and below you can see the enchilada mixture “over rice.” I baked it to melt the cheese, but you wouldn’t have to.
    chicken enchiladas - making (2) (475x356)

“Over rice” has become one of my favorite ways to serve all sorts of foods that used to be time-consuming to put together or simply gluten-filled. Rice is easy, and even the process for soaking brown rice is super simple.

So for me, I’m too stubborn to run out to the store in the middle of cooking. I probably would have chosen “over rice” – white, since brown takes too long to cook. White rice may not be as nutritious as brown, but it’s less evil than trans fat.

Sometimes sticking to your guns is about thinking outside the box or choosing the lesser of the evil compromises.

Thanks, Tiffany, for a great conversation starter! What other situations do you readers run into where you feel “stuck” on real food?

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You will not want to miss a moment of this series – catch the previous posts right HERE and be sure to sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to continue following along. You can also follow me on Twitter, get KS for Kindle, or see my Facebook Fan Page.

Meet TiffanyTiffany is a newbie real food eater who is trying to master and incorporate nourishing foods into her kitchen without breaking the bank. She documents her baby-sized strides at DontWastetheCrumbs.

 

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

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26 Comments so far ↓

  • Nicki

    I love that you are pointing out that it is important not to despair over imperfection, but to continue to make good choices. I also agree that we should take our food choices seriously and not rely on doctors to fix our bodies in every instance. But does that mean we have to lable all doctors as corrupt? Are they not also human and products of the culture we live in? Might it be possible that some went into medicine to help people? That statement just jumped out at me.

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    You are correct Nicki, not all doctors are corrupt. I’d even venture to say most ARE good. A very good friend of mine from high school became a doctor and she has one of the highest ethical standards that I’ve come across.

    It’s unfortunate though that a few bad apples can put sour tastes in our mouths (my mouth?) regarding the whole. If you’re able to find a good one, hang on to them with dear life!! And taking care of our bodies from the inside will certainly decrease our reliance upon doctors and conventional medicine as a whole, which I believe we can all agree is a good thing! =)

  • Katrina

    You could have also made coconut creps or used the filling as a lettuce wrap:)

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good one, Katrina! Grain-free crepes are super fast (I’m sure wheat flour ones are, too, just have never made them) and as long as you have enough eggs, simple enough! The more we learn, the more choices we have in a pinch! :) Katie

  • Julieanne

    I love your post; this is how we live. We try to do most things with whole foods, but we aren’t “perfect” about it yet, because of time limitations, mainly.

    My question – and I feel dumb about asking this – is that even in processed foods, I don’t see trans fats in them. Now, I don’t pick up every item in the store to check, but of the items we do buy that are processed or minimally processed, when it lists transfats on the nutrition break down/label, the trans fats section always says “zero”. So where are the grams of trans fats located? Our tortillas in the fridge (just normal brands) don’t have any trans fats in them. I guess I’m confused…maybe there are negligible amounts of transfats, and they aren’t required to list anything under 1 gram or however they are measured. I don’t know! I just know that it’s been years since I’ve seen an actual grocery store item have any trans fats on the nutrition facts label. Please enlighten me! Thanks.

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    You are exactly correct Julieanne!! I took a picture of the box of popcorn (and shame on me for not posting!), but the list of ingredients reads this: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil (adds a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat per serving)…

    Because manufacturers are required to list trans fat in the boxes only when it reaches a certain amount per serving, it means any variety of trans fat can be hidden in our foods and still show “zero” grams. We have to do the leg work and look it up ourselves via the list of ingredients.

    Julieanne Reply:

    So I guess this is what I’m wondering: if it only adds a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat per serving to the food, is it something to really worry about? Especially if it is a really small amount? Thank you for your help.

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    Good question Julieanne! Here’s my point of view:

    1. There’s no standard definition of “insignificant amount.” It’s merely another way to say “it’s less than the threshold to which the FDA requires us to label,” which I believe is 0.5g per serving (see link below).

    2. “Insignificant” is a very subjective term. Of course the amount of trans fat it’s not important to the company making the foods – they’re in business to make money! On the consumer side, insignificant will vary from one person to the next. An “insignificant” amount of peanuts to someone who is highly allergic is a very big deal.

    3. “Insignificant” is an adjective, and putting adjectives in the list of ingredients seems sneaky. We don’t see “refreshing water” or “sticky xanthum gum” listed.

    4. Half of one gram in one serving of one item in our kitchen is more than likely not a big deal. However, if every single item in our kitchen had this same amount – per serving – imagine how high the totals could reach!

    Knowing the process it takes to create trans fat, and the fact that on a molecular level it more resembles plastic than food, it’s number 4 that concerns me the most. Even if we cancel out the big ticket items from our kitchen and allow the “insignificant” amounts, there’s still great potential to harm our bodies in both the short and long term.

    Think of it in term of pennies. One penny each day doesn’t seem like a big deal – we pass them on the streets all the time. But if we collected one penny each day for 30 years, we’d have nearly $110, an amount that no one would turn a blind eye to.

    I hope that helps. This is a great topic for future posts too!

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/NFLPM/ucm274590.htm#after

    Julieanne Reply:

    Thank you for sharing more details about this. I appreciate it! What you’ve said makes complete sense now.

  • Angie

    So, what do you all think about the recent claims that rice now has arsenic in it? We used to eat a lot of rice-excatly for the reasons that Katie said–it was easy to cook something ‘over rice’, but since those claims came out around the middle of this past september, I think, our family has completely quit eating rice. Our health food store has organic brown rice grown form a ‘local’ farmer within our state for about $1.50 a lb, but I’m even scared of that! Am I crazy?? (I do live in MO, which is one of the states that the rice is supposedly contaminated in). If nothing else, I think it is good that our diet has now been diversified–we eat millet, couscous and occasionally quinoa the same way we used to eat rice. But I do miss the rice sometimes! Katie, I’m a long time reader, and greatly value your opinion on food matters! And Tiffany, I’ve really enjoyed your series, and have bookmarked your blog as well! :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Angie,
    With all the voluminous and often conflicting information about food out there these days, I think we’ve all questioned our sanity at least once. ;)

    You’re not alone in wondering. I know a few things:
    1. There are actually safe levels of arsenic.
    2. There’s often arsenic in the food supply and our bodies, and it’s okay.
    3. The darn chicken poop is the problem! Ticks me off how we treat our animals…
    4. I think I read that rice grown in Cal. is thought to not have this problem…and I’m pretty sure the 50 lbs we bought was Cal. rice.
    5. Since we have 50 lbs of it and aren’t really eating gluten, I threw up my hands, stopped reading, said a prayer, and hoped for the best!

    I have the same knee jerk reaction you did about certain media stories and what not – like, it’s better to just avoid the thing until I know more and it’s proven safe! I get it. You may want to look into the issue a little bit more via a Google search now that we’re a few months away from the initial report. I think it was a media-blown-up story that didn’t have as much actual impact on the food supply, but I could be wrong.

    And yes, count your blessings that you’ve discovered other grains you enjoy and have diversified your list of choices! But I wouldn’t be afraid of rice…at least until the next story comes out. ;)

    Thanks for the sweet words! :) Katie

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    I’d like to second everything Katie just said… partly because dealing with arsenic rice was just a bit past my capabilities at the time (therefore had nothing constructive to offer as a reply!), but ESPECIALLY because of your uplifting words! Thank you!

    Elizabeth Reply:

    What I’ve been told is this: yes, it’s there. The levels in actual rice aren’t really worth worrying about unless you’re subsisting on rice alone, but avoid brown rice syrup and the like. That came from my nutritionist. I didn’t ask his sources but I (obviously) trust him and he’s very good about doing his homework.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    What I was told was: yes, it’s there. The amount in whole rice isn’t worth worrying about but to avoid brown rice syrup and the like (which I don’t use anyway). That came from our nutritionist, but I didn’t ask him to cite sources. ;)

  • Julia

    Stacy over at Stacy makes cents did an outstanding post on this topic a while back. She reminded me that food should not be my god. It was a wonderful post regarding how we should give ourselves grace rather than give up and without that post in the back of my mind, I think there are many days I would have given up. Thanks for a great post. I’m enjoying this series.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Julia,
    Loved Stacy’s post, too! Something we all probably need to remind ourselves every so often, along with the fact that we’re going to die of something – and Heaven will be BETTER than here, so it’s not something to be afraid of but look forward to.

    Glad you’re enjoying it! :) Katie

  • Morgan

    I have those ‘conversations’ with myself at the grocery store. Glad I am not the only one! I have to compromise every now and then and I don’t feel guilty about it (well most of the time). I frequently have to change my ‘starch’ or ‘bread’ because I don’t have time to fix what was on the plan. I plan all my meals but there are some weeks where the tortillas just don’t get made! Last night we had savory waffles instead of homemade bread with our soup because I had my hands full all day long. Being flexible with recipes and meal ideas has helped my sanity and budget.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I hear you! Some days dinner just gets too close, too fast…we end up with soup. Just soup. Maybe some raw veggies and ranch. Sometimes there just isn’t bread, and no one has died yet! ;) Katie

  • Kimberly

    Thanks, girls, for keeping it real. It really is a journey. Sometimes we get a flat tire, but we change it and keep going. Good post.

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    Thanks for the encouragement Kimberly!

  • Teri Gelseth

    I would have whipped up a great salad and called it enchilada salad? Or boiled up some rice (better unsoaked grain than a trans fat right?)

    IDK but with 30 mins on the clock I wouldn’t have time to make it to ANY store at all…

    But I have been where you were!

    Teri
    terigelseth.com

    Teri Gelseth Reply:

    also… with my pantry as my ‘store’ I can never plan a meal I don’t have the ingredients for :-) enter the pantry principle :-D

    Teri
    terigelseth.com

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    Maybe the fact that there’s a grocery store less than 1/2 mi from my house skews my perception, lol.

    I agree that consulting with your pantry is absolutely VITAL in meal planning, but unfortunately my life doesn’t always listen to the plan!

    Teri Gelseth @ The Sustainability Blog Reply:

    SO true Tiffany! Life happens ;-)

  • Darren@KetoDietPlans

    I 100% agree with you Katie. This isn’t the same, but in bodybuilding there is the concept of the “cheat” meal. Just like you said, you can’t eat perfectly all the time. Sometimes the situation (dinner party, family in town or, for me, NFL Sunday bbq’s) alone forces you to eat outside the diet protocol you are following. The key is to develop the mentality of living an overall healthy lifestyle and not focus on a single meal that may contain things you know you shouldnt be eating. Great article!

    Tiffany @ DontWastetheCrumbs Reply:

    Thanks Darren, and you’re correct – life in general prevents us from eating perfectly 100% of the time. We just do the best we can!

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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